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Colourful rag and bone men who plied their trade in Cardiff.

Many Cardiffians will remember Harry Parfitt, who used to have his scrapyard in Thesiger Street, in the Cathays area.

Harry's motto was "Don't Tarry - Sell To Harry" and he would drive through the streets on his horse and cart pulled by his ponies Winkie and Foxy.

Harry, who used to run the Cathays Amateur Boxing Club, was one of Cardiff's characters and was rarely seen without a flower in his buttonhole.

A life member of the Welsh Junior Rugby Union, he was apparently the only Welshman to be made a Life President of the Amateur Boxing Association.

He was also a founder member of the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association and was an official at the 1948 London Olympics and the 1958 British and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.

As I remember, for a bundle of rags or a few jam-jars, Harry would present you with a goldfish in a little plastic bag or a balloon on a stick.

Harry, who appeared on the popular television show What's My Line, hosted by Eamonn Andrews, died in 1973 at th e age of 81.

Another well-known Cardiff rag and bone man who lived many years before Harry was a whimsical Irishman named Tim Donovan. He used to drive his mare Maid of Killarney in the shafts of his rag and bone collecting cart and was a popular figure in the 1880s.

On one occasion, in 1888, he drove the mare the 12 miles to Cowbridge, racing everything on the roads on his way to the Glamorgan Hunt Steeplechases.

When he arrived at the Penlline Racecourse, he ran her in one of the steeplechases.

His "racing colours" were white with a green sash and he rode her wearing an old silk top hat!

In fact, his white racing jacket was his shirt and the green sash a strip of green tissue paper. Maid of Killarney, whom he had bought for 25 shillings and a pint of beer, won easily by two fields after all the other horses had refused to jump the dry ditch obstacle.

The old mare had no real speed but was said to jump like a stag. This must have been true, as Maid of Killarney had won many horse-jumping competitions at the annual Cardiff Horse Show in Sophia Gardens against some of the best show-jumpers in the country. MEANWHILE, with regard to my piece on the Empire Theatre, Eric James writes: "My wife and I visited the Gaumont (Empire) Cinema on its last day of showing.

"We sat in the front stalls. At the end of the film I decided to be the last to leave.

"My wife said she would meet me in the foyer. I leaned against the theatre organ and gazed at the beautiful theatre which seated 2,400. As I walked up the passageway, men with hard hats and carrying sledgehammers began to destroy the seats. "We left with great sadness. On the following Monday morning a friend looking out of his office window in Greyfriars saw smoke billowing up somewhere in Queen Street.

"He phoned the fire brigade and they explained that they had visited the Gaumont and the seats were in a pile and burning. The sliding roof was open."

* You can write to me at Brian Lee, Cardiff Remembered, South Wales Echo, Media Wales, Six Park Street, Cardiff CF10 1XR or e-mail me at leebrian@btinternet.com LOOKING BACK WITH DAN O'NEILL - EVERY TUESDAY * Harry Parfitt with his horse and trap on the streets of Cardiff in 1956
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 9, 2012
Words:585
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